New Year, New You!

Posted on 12/31/2016

Tomorrow marks a new year, which means a clean slate for accomplishing new goals for yourself, whether they're personal or professional. Did you know that roughly 40% of Americans make New Year's resolutions each year? That's more than the number of people (30%) who watch the Super Bowl! While 40% is a great number, the unfortunate thing about resolutions is that, according to research by the University of Scranton, only 8% of Americans actually keep them. So what is it that people in the 8% have figured out that the other 32% haven't?

Read on for some helpful ways to start. Who knows? One (or more) just might be a game changer for your success in 2017:

Keep it simple. Many people see the new year as a chance to write down absolutely everything they want to accomplish, regardless of how unreasonable it may be. Instead of creating a long laundry list of goals, keep it short and sweet. A long list is more daunting to look at, let alone accomplish, than a short one — plus a long list typically means you have competing goals, which sets you up for failure. With your short list, make your goals small and attainable rather than large and lofty, as the extent of the change isn't as crucial as the desire to make a change in the first place. When the latter happens, the former will follow, and ultimately, reaching a goal is only possible one step at a time.

Keep it measurable. Being inspired to change is one thing, but actually seeing it through takes reasonable and specific metrics. For example, if your goal is simply to lose some weight, that goal doesn't include a plan for the "how" because it's vague. A better goal, which is measurable and specific, would be something like avoiding fast food and sweets for 30 days or attending a spin class every Monday and Wednesday night. The more specific, the less you can justify avoiding it and the more likely you are to follow through.

Make it obvious. However you write down your resolution, whether in a journal, on a to-do list, or on an inspirational photo or poster you see every day, make it clear and visible. In today's online world, sharing it on social media can also be a good way to be motivated and held a little more accountable. Even better, tell a trusted friend and have them periodically check in on your progress and encourage you along the way. The more you're reminded of it, the more you'll continue striving for it — but keep doing other things you enjoy as well so it doesn't become all-consuming.

Believe that you can and then do it. If you aren't 100% bought into your goal and your ability to achieve it, then success isn't too likely. Although willpower does have something to do with it, this has a lot more to do with the decisions you make. Making the right choice as you go, no matter how small, will keep you going in the right direction. If a couple wants to spend $20 less per month at restaurants, for example, they can make the conscious decision to decline a night out with friends in order to stay on track. You really can do it if you say no to some things and yes to the things that will get you where you want to go.

The truth is, you can always think of a reason to do something other than what your goal is, but then the question becomes: How much do you really want to attain your goal? Fortunately, the choice — and the ability to stick with your resolutions this year — is up to you.